Galena’s Campbell Allen receives BSA National Heroism Award
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Most Boys Scouts plan the awards they want to receive as they move through scouting’s ranks. They set goals and perform the necessary steps to achieve those goals, and the awards are bestowed. On rare occasions, however, a Boy Scout receives an award for responding to an unexpected emergency situation, using skills learned in scouting.
That’s what happened to BSA Troop 192 member Campbell Allen. During a Monday, December 10, Troop 192 Court of Honor at the Central College Presbyterian Church in Westerville, Campbell received the Boy Scouts of America National Heroism Award.
BSA’s National Heroism Award is not casually given out. There is a rigid screening process, and of the over 2.5 million boys involved in scouting, only 121 of them received a National Heroism Award in 2011; and only 5,922 National Heroism Awards have been given out since the award was created in 1923.
Campbell was nominated for the award for his life-saving actions when his father, Roger Allen, suffered a super ventricular tachycardia episode while hiking to Old Man’s Cave at Hocking Hills State Park last December.
“We were backpacking near Old Man’s cave and my heartbeat went up to 200 beats per minute and stayed that way,” Roger said. “Campbell recognized the symptoms, and being a Boy Scout he was prepared — he made me sit down and administered first aid for tachycardia, hypothermia, dehydration and shock.”
But that wasn’t the end of the situation for Campbell and his father — who’s heart rate continued to race at 200 bpm. Campbell’s cell phone would not work. Another hiker finally came along who was able to get a signal with his phone carrier, a 911 call was made, and then there was the wait.
“It was a good three miles to the ranger station, they had to hike in,” Roger said. “Campbell was the only one who knew where we were on the trail, so he guided them in; when they where nearby he used his whistle as a distress signal. It took the rangers and paramedics 45 minutes to get there.”
Paramedics performed emergency medical procedures on Roger on-site trying to get a normal heart rhythm going; then had to carry him out to the ranger station where a helicopter was waiting to take him to Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster.
“That’s where it really became traumatic for Campbell because he couldn’t go with me,” Roger said. “He never knew if he would see me again. He was at the ranger station for several hours before somebody was able to take him to Lancaster.”
Roger said it was a pretty severe situation with his heart racing that fast for three hours before doctors were able to get it under control.
“In March I had heart ablation surgery so it won’t happen again,” Roger said. “Campbell is 13 years old now, but he was 12 at the time. It’s amazing the composure and preparedness he had in dealing with a crisis situation. Many 12-year-olds would’ve panicked, but he took over and used his scout training. I can honestly say I’m here today because of Campbell’s actions.
“It was a very traumatic experience for all of us, and especially for Campbell,” Roger added. “This is the first-time the Boy Scouts of America National Heroism Award has been given to a troop member in the Simon Kenton Council. It’s very rare, not an award Boy Scouts just hand out.”
The Allen’s are Galena residents. Campbell is in the eighth grade at Big Walnut Middle School. In addition to scouting, Campbell plays soccer, lacrosse and runs cross country.
Roger Allen works as a Commercial Lines Product Manager for Nationwide Insurance. Roger is one of the Troop 192 assistant scoutmasters, and helps coach middle school lacrosse.